Henry awoke only once, and that was
about half way between midnight and morning, when
his senses, never still entirely, even in sleep, warned
him that something was at the door. He rose cautiously
upon his arm, saw a dark muzzle at the crevice, and
behind it a pair of yellow, gleaming eyes. He
knew at once that it was a panther, probably living
in the swamp and drawn by the food. It must be
very hungry to dare thus the smell of man. Henry’s
hand moved slowly to the end of a stick, the other
end of which was a glowing coal. Then he seized
it and hurled it directly at the inquisitive head.
The hot end of the stick struck squarely
between the yellow eyes. There was a yelp of
pain, and the boy heard the rapid pad of the big cat’s
feet as it fled into the swamp. Then he turned
over on his side, and laughed in genuine pleasure
at what was to him a true forest joke. He knew
the panther would not come, at least not while he was
in the hut, and he calmly closed his eyes once more.
The old Henry was himself again.
He awoke in the morning to find that
the cold rain was still falling. It seemed to
him that it had prepared to rain forever, but he was
resolved, nevertheless, now that he had food and the
strength that food brings, to begin the search for
his comrades. The islet in the swamp would serve
as his base-nothing could be better-and he would never
cease until he found them or discovered what had become
A little spring of cold water flowed
from the edge of the islet to lose itself quickly
in the swamp. Henry drank there after his breakfast,
and then felt as strong and active as ever. As
he knew, the mind may triumph over the body, but the
mind cannot save the body without food. Then
he made his precious bear meat secure against the prowling
panther or others of his kind, tying it on hanging
boughs too high for a jump and too slender to support
the weight of a large animal. This task finished
quickly, he left the swamp and returned toward the
spot where lie had seen the Mohawks.
The falling rain and the somber clouds
helped Henry, in a way, as the whole forest was enveloped
in a sort of gloom, and he was less likely to be seen.
But when he had gone about half the distance he heard
Indians signaling to one another, and, burying himself
as usual in the wet bushes, he saw two small groups
of warriors meet and talk. Presently they separated,
one party going toward the east and the other toward
the west. Henry thought they were out hunting,
as the Indians usually took little care of the morrow,
eating all their food in a few days, no matter how
great the supply might be.
When he drew near the place he saw
three more Indians, and these were traveling directly
south. He was quite sure now that his theory was
correct. They were sending out hunters in every
direction, in order that they might beat up the woods
thoroughly for game, and his own position anywhere
except on the islet was becoming exceedingly precarious.
Nevertheless, using all his wonderful skill, he continued
the hunt. He had an abiding faith that his four
comrades were yet alive, and he meant to prove it.
In the afternoon the clouds moved
away a little, and the rain decreased, though it did
not cease. The Indian signs multiplied, and Henry
felt sure that the forest within a radius of twenty
miles of his islet contained more than one camp.
Some great gathering must be in progress and the hunters
were out to supply it with food. Four times he
heard the sound of shots, and thrice more he saw warriors
passing through the forest. Once a wounded deer
darted past him, and, lying down in the bushes, he
saw the Indians following the fleeing animal.
As the day grew older the trails multiplied.
Certainly a formidable gathering of bands was in progress,
and, feeling that he might at any time be caught in
a net, he returned to the islet, which had now become
a veritable fort for him.
It was not quite dark when he arrived,
and he found all as it had been except the tracks
of two panthers under the boughs to which he had fastened
the big pieces of bear meat. Henry felt a malicious
satisfaction at the disappointment of the panthers.
“Come again, and have the same bad luck,”
At dusk the rain ceased entirely,
and he prepared for a journey in the night. He
examined his powder carefully to see that no particle
of it was wet, counted the bullets in his pouch, and
then examined the skies. There was a little moon,
not too much, enough to show him the way, but not
enough to disclose him to an enemy unless very near.
Then he left the islet and went swiftly through the
forest, laying his course a third time toward the
Indian camp. He was sure now that all the hunters
had returned, and he did not expect the necessity
of making any stops for the purpose of hiding.
His hopes were justified, and as he drew near the
camp he became aware that its population had increased
greatly. It was proved by many signs. New
trails converged upon it, and some of them were very
broad, indicating that many warriors had passed.
They had passed, too, in perfect confidence, as there
was no effort at concealment, and Henry surmised that
no white force of any size could be within many days’
march of this place. But the very security of
the Indians helped his own design. They would
not dream that any one of the hated race was daring
to come almost within the light of their fires.
Henry had but one fear just now, and
that was dogs. If the Indians had any of their
mongrel curs with them, they would quickly scent him
out and give the alarm with their barking. But
he believed that the probabilities were against it.
This, so he thought then, was a war or hunting camp,
and it was likely that the Indians would leave the
dogs at their permanent villages. At any rate
he would take the risk, and he drew slowly toward
the oak opening, where some Indians stood about.
Beyond them, in another dip of the valley, was a wider
opening which he had not seen on his first trip, and
this contained not only bark shelters, but buildings
that indicated a permanent village. The second
and larger opening was filled with a great concourse
Fortunately the foliage around the
opening was very dense, many trees and thickets everywhere.
Henry crept to the very rim, where, lying in the blackest
of the shadows, and well hidden himself, he could yet
see nearly everything in the camp. The men were
not eating now, although it was obvious that the hunters
had done well. The dressed bodies of deer and
bear hung in the bark shelters. Most of the Indians
sat about the fires, and it seemed to Henry that they
had an air of expectancy. At least two hundred
were present, and all of them were in war paint, although
there were several styles of paint. There was
a difference in appearance, too, in the warriors,
and Henry surmised that representatives of all the
tribes of the Iroquois were there, coming to the extreme
western boundary or fringe of their country.
While Henry watched them a half dozen
who seemed by their bearing and manner to be chiefs
drew together at a point not far from him and talked
together earnestly. Now and then they looked toward
the forest, and he was quite sure that they were expecting
somebody, a person of importance. He became deeply
interested. He was lying in a dense clump of
hazel bushes, flat upon his stomach, his face raised
but little above the ground. He would have been
hidden from the keenest eye only ten feet away, but
the faces of the chiefs outlined against the blazing
firelight were so clearly visible to him that he could
see every change of expression. They were fine-looking
men, all of middle age, tall, lean, their noses hooked,
features cut clean and strong, and their heads shaved,
all except the defiant scalp lock, into which the feather
of an eagle was twisted. Their bodies were draped
in fine red or blue blankets, and they wore leggins
and moccasins of beautifully tanned deerskin.
They ceased talking presently, and
Henry heard a distant wailing note from the west.
Some one in the camp replied with a cry in kind, and
then a silence fell upon them all. The chiefs
stood erect, looking toward the west. Henry knew
that he whom they expected was at hand.
The cry was repeated, but much nearer,
and a warrior leaped into the opening, in the full
blaze of the firelight. He was entirely naked
save for a breech cloth and moccasins, and he was
a wild and savage figure. He stood for a moment
or two, then faced the chiefs, and, bowing before
them, spoke a few words in the Wyandot tongue-Henry
knew already by his paint that he was a Wyandot.
The chiefs inclined their heads gravely,
and the herald, turning, leaped back into the forest.
In two or three minutes six men, including the herald,
emerged from the woods, and Henry moved a little when
he saw the first of the six, all of whom were Wyandots.
It was Timmendiquas, head chief of the Wyandots, and
Henry had never seen him more splendid in manner and
bearing than he was as he thus met the representatives
of the famous Six Nations. Small though the Wyandot
tribe might be, mighty was its valor and fame, and
White Lightning met the great Iroquois only as an
equal, in his heart a superior.
It was an extraordinary thing, but
Henry, at this very moment, burrowing in the earth
that he might not lose his life at the hands of either,
was an ardent partisan of Timmendiquas. It was
the young Wyandot chief whom he wished to be first,
to make the greatest impression, and he was pleased
when he heard the low hum of admiration go round the
circle of two hundred savage warriors. It was
seldom, indeed, perhaps never, that the Iroquois had
looked upon such a man as Timmendiquas.
Timmendiquas and his companions advanced
slowly toward the chiefs, and the Wyandot overtopped
all the Iroquois. Henry could tell by the manner
of the chiefs that the reputation of the famous White
Lightning had preceded him, and that they had already
found fact equal to report.
The chiefs, Timmendiquas among them,
sat down on logs before the fire, and all the warriors
withdrew to a respectful distance, where they stood
and watched in silence. The oldest chief took
his long pipe, beautifully carved and shaped like
a trumpet, and filled it with tobacco which he lighted
with a coal from the fire. Then he took two or
three whiffs and passed the pipe to Timmendiquas,
who did the same. Every chief smoked the pipe,
and then they sat still, waiting in silence.
Henry was so much absorbed in this
scene, which was at once a spectacle and a drama,
that he almost forgot where he was, and that he was
an enemy. He wondered now at their silence.
If this was a council surely they would discuss whatever
question had brought them there! But he was soon
enlightened. That low far cry came again, but
from the east. It was answered, as before, from
the camp, and in three or four minutes a warrior sprang
from the forest into the opening. Like the first,
he was naked except for the breech cloth and moccasins.
The chiefs rose at his coming, received his salute
gravely, and returned it as gravely. Then he
returned to the forest, and all waited in the splendid
calm of the Indian.
Curiosity pricked Henry like a nettle.
Who was coming now? It must be some man of great
importance, or they would not wait so silently.
There was the same air of expectancy that had preceded
the arrival of Timmendiquas. All the warriors
looked toward the eastern wall of the forest, and
Henry looked the same way. Presently the black
foliage parted, and a man stepped forth, followed
at a little distance by seven or eight others.
The stranger, although tall, was not equal in height
to Timmendiquas, but he, too, had a lofty and splendid
presence, and it was evident to anyone versed at all
in forest lore that here was a great chief. He
was lean but sinewy, and he moved with great ease and
grace. He reminded Henry of a powerful panther.
He was dressed, after the manner of famous chiefs,
with the utmost care. His short military coat
of fine blue cloth bore a silver epaulet on either
shoulder. His head was not bare, disclosing the
scalp lock, like those of the other Indians; it was
covered instead with a small hat of felt, round and
laced. Hanging carelessly over one shoulder was
a blanket of blue cloth with a red border. At
his side, from a belt of blue leather swung a silver-mounted
small sword. His leggins were of superfine
blue cloth and his moccasins of deerskin. Both
were trimmed with small beads of many colors.
The new chief advanced into the opening
amid the dead silence that still held all, and Timmendiquas
stepped forward to meet him. These two held the
gaze of everyone, and what they and they alone did
had become of surpassing interest. Each was haughty,
fully aware of his own dignity and importance, but
they met half way, looked intently for a moment or
two into the eyes of each other, and then saluted gravely.
All at once Henry knew the stranger.
He had never seen him before, but his impressive reception,
and the mixture of military and savage attire revealed
him. This could be none other than the great Mohawk
war chief, Thayendanegea, the Brant of the white men,
terrible name on the border. Henry gazed at him
eagerly from his covert, etching his features forever
on his memory. His face, lean and strong, was
molded much like that of Timmendiquas, and like the
Wyandot he was young, under thirty.
Timmendiquas and Thayendanegea-it
was truly he-returned to the fire, and once again
the trumpet-shaped pipe was smoked by all. The
two young chiefs received the seats of favor, and
others sat about them. But they were not the
only great chiefs present, though all yielded first
place to them because of their character and exploits.
Henry was not mistaken in his guess
that this was an important council, although its extent
exceeded even his surmise. Delegates and head
chiefs of all the Six Nations were present to confer
with the warlike Wyandots of the west who had come
so far east to meet them. Thayendanegea was the
great war chief of the Mohawks, but not their titular
chief. The latter was an older man, Te-kie-ho-ke
(Two Voices), who sat beside the younger. The
other chiefs were the Onondaga, Tahtoo-ta-hoo
(The Entangled); the Oneida, O-tat-sheh-te (Bearing
a Quiver); the Cayuga, Te-ka-ha-hoonk
(He Who Looks Both Ways); the Seneca, Kan-ya-tai-jo
(Beautiful Lake); and the Tuscarora, Ta-ha-en-te-yahwak-hon
(Encircling and Holding Up a Tree). The names
were hereditary, and because in a dim past they had
formed the great confederacy, the Onondagas were first
in the council, and were also the high priests and
titular head of the Six Nations. But the Mohawks
were first on-the war path.
All the Six Nations were divided into
clans, and every clan, camping in its proper place,
was represented at this meeting.
Henry had heard much at Pittsburgh
of the Six Nations, their wonderful league, and their
wonderful history. He knew that according to the
legend the league had been formed by Hiawatha, an Onondaga.
He was opposed in this plan by Tododaho, then head
chief of the Onondagas, but he went to the Mohawks
and gained the support of their great chief, Dekanawidah.
With his aid the league was formed, and the solemn
agreement, never broken, was made at the Onondaga Lake.
Now they were a perfect little state, with fifty chiefs,
or, including the head chiefs, fifty-six.
Some of these details Henry was to
learn later. He was also to learn many of the
words that the chiefs said through a source of which
he little dreamed at the present. Yet he divined
much of it from the meeting of the fiery Wyandots
with the highly developed and warlike power of the
Thayendanegea was talking now, and
Timmendiquas, silent and grave, was listening.
The Mohawk approached his subject indirectly through
the trope, allegory, and simile that the Indian loved.
He talked of the unseen deities that ruled the life
of the Iroquois through mystic dreams. He spoke
of the trees, the rocks, and the animals, all of which
to the Iroquois had souls. He called on the name
of the Great Spirit, which was Aieroski before it
became Manitou, the Great Spirit who, in the Iroquois
belief, had only the size of a dwarf because his soul
was so mighty that he did not need body.
“This land is ours, the land
of your people and mine, oh, chief of the brave Wyandots,”
he said to Timmendiquas. “Once there was
no land, only the waters, but Aieroski raised the
land of Konspioni above the foam. Then he sowed
five handfuls of red seed in it, and from those handfuls
grew the Five Nations. Later grew up the Tuscaroras,
who have joined us and other tribes of our race, like
yours, great chief of the brave Wyandots.”
Timmendiquas still said nothing.
He did not allow an eyelid to flicker at this assumption
of superiority for the Six Nations over all other
tribes. A great warrior he was, a great politician
also, and he wished to unite the Iroquois in a firm
league with the tribes of the Ohio valley. The
coals from the great fire glowed and threw out an intense
heat. Thayendanegea unbuttoned his military coat
and threw it back, revealing a bare bronze chest,
upon which was painted the device of the Mohawks,
a flint and steel. The chests of the Onondaga,
Cayuga, and Seneca head chiefs were also bared to
the glow. The device on the chest of the Onondaga
was a cabin on top of a hill, the Caytiga’s was
a great pipe, and the figure of a mountain adorned
the Seneca bronze.
“We have had the messages that
you have sent to us, Timmendiquas,” said Thayendanegea,
“and they are good in the eyes of our people,
the Rotinonsionni (the Mohawks). They please,
too, the ancient tribe, the Kannoseone (the Onondagas),
the valiant Hotinonsionni (the Sénecas), and
all our brethren of the Six Nations. All the land
from the salt water to the setting sun was given to
the red men by Aieroski, but if we do not defend it
we cannot keep it.”
“It is so,” said Timmendiquas,
speaking for the first time. “We have fought
them on the Ohio and in Kaintuck-ee, where they come
with their rifles and axes. The whole might of
the Wyandots, the Shawnees, the Miamis, the Illinois,
the Delawares, and the Ottawas has gone forth against
them. We have slain many of them, but we have
failed to drive them back. Now we have come to
ask the Six Nations to press down upon them in the
east with all your power, while we do the same in the
west. Surely then your Aieroski and our Manitou,
who are the same, will not refuse us success.”
The eyes of Thayendanegea glistened.
“You speak well, Timmendiquas,”
he said. “All the red men must unite to
fight for the land of Konspioni which Aieroski raised
above the sea, and we be two, you and I, Timmendiquas,
fit to lead them to battle.”
“It is so,” said Timmendiquas gravely.